Surrogacy law: Questions & Answers
Q. What will the plan mean for people who are infertile?
A. New laws are planned to regulate the whole area of infertility treatment in Ireland. Growing numbers of women are attending clinics here to help them have a baby.
It's early days, though. The Heads of the Bill have not even been drawn up yet and no legislation will be in place before next year's election.
Q. So what is the point of announcing these proposals?
A. It will lead to consultation with different parties, including doctors, parents and legal experts. It will build up a body of work which will inform the proposed legislation.
Q. What are the plans relating to surrogacy?
A. Health Minister Leo Varadkar said surrogacy will be regulated domestically for the first time.
It will be permitted where the motivation is altruistic, in cases where a sister or friend carries a child for another woman.
A legal agreement can be reached to make the non-birth mother the baby's legal parent.
It will not allow for commercial surrogacy, where the woman carrying the child is paid a fee.
Q. What about the hundreds of Irish women who avail of surrogacy abroad in countries such as India and the USA?
A. The minister said the parents will not be penalised. But if commercial surrogacy is legal in another country there is nothing authorities here can do. The legislation will have to work out how these babies are recognised when they are brought home.
Q. What other areas will it cover?
A. It will oversee embryo donation, the screening of embryos for serious genetic diseases, egg and sperm donation and stem cell research.
Q. Will it make it more difficult for people to get fertility treatment?
A. The clinics in Ireland are well-run already but any area of medicine benefits from having a watchdog.
Embryos can be donated to other couples for research. But embryos cannot be created for research.